The Pendulum Swing...
Everyone’s finally talking about the economy. There’s
still partisan battling over old idealogical issues, but those
are starting to fade fast as everyone eyes the ready-to-go stimulus
funds, new foreclosure crisis monies, and further budgetary
fixes expected to be put forth in the coming months.
Here in New York, the big topic’s the state budget, which
is faced with a $14 billion shortgap whose closure will cause
ripples in spending levels for a host of key parts in the mechanisms
that make up our social fabric.
I’ve been speaking with an old friend at Forbes who’s
been spending a lot of time on the news shows, where he was
long the soul voice unsullied by the supply side, free market
Reaganomics juggernaut of the past 30 years. He says we’re
going through a paradigm change; the pendulum’s taking
a big swing back towards Roosevelt’s ideals. So yes, all
that Fox screeching about the “Road to Socialism,”
and the USA become more Euro-like, is true. It just isn’t
necessarily bad, or avoidable.
We welcome the underlying shifts in societal and business ethics,
environmental and cultural awareness, educational appreciation,
and a better emphasis on community consensus accompanying all
the changes in the air. We think that, in the long run, what’s
happening will make us stronger, and may eventually be seen
as a series of necessary corrections.
But what can we do to help ourselves move with the flow, as
they say, as best we can?
First off, we need some specific projects in hand. According
to folks we know who’ve been meeting with our senior Senator,
Chuck Schumer, half of all the stimulus money just allotted
is for 90 to 180 day “shovel ready” projects. The
other half is for projects that can get started by 2010. To
get this year’s bucks, projects have to be submitted in
May and June. Projects geared towards 2010 should get in line
now. An emphasis will be put on roads and bridges just now,
although expansion of broadband accessibility is also getting
emphasis, along with communication equipment needs for emergency
operations. Everyone wants to make sure major sewer and water
projects get underway now.
Healthcare and educational needs will be coming in the near
future, Schumer, and my friend at Forbes, has said.
So where do we stand here in the Route 28 corridor? Most of
our towns seem a bit behind the eight-ball on all this. Same
with our counties, who have gotten glommed down looking at huge
projects. Our regional entity, the Catskill Watershed Corporation,
appears asleep at the wheel with few significant projects gestating.
Fortunately, eyes are now turning towards the quietly persistent
Central Catskills Collaborative, which began putting together
wish lists for local projects last year, to many’s huffing
and puffing that their funding was limited, their scope too
small. The CWC is hosting their upcoming meeting. The state’s
keeping their involvement alive. Maybe we should all start attending
their meetings now, offering our own suggestions for projects
that could bring our towns together…
Meanwhile, we think the school board needs to get back to specific
plans for its own infrastructure’s repairs. We should
look more closely at everything entailed in possible upgrading
of the old Ulster & Delaware rail corridor for tourism and,
eventually, transportation purposes.
Most of all, we need to stop belittling each others’ concerns
and betting all on getting saved by private pie-in-the-sky projects
and come up with wish lists for what we want to make our communities
Our future depends on it, as well as our share of all this stimulation
passing around these days. And should we let it all pass just
remember those places up in central Delaware County and other
anti-Roosevelt bastions who turned their noses at New Deal building
projects and aid two pendulum swings (and paradigms) back, and
are still struggling to regain their 19th century footing 70